According to Nomad List, New York City is a popular destination being the third most visited city by digital nomads.
Table of Contents
- 1 Visa application
- 2 Geography – finding your way around the city
- 3 Great neighborhoods for digital nomads
- 4 The cost of living
- 5 Accommodation
- 6 Utilities
- 7 Groceries
- 8 Internet
- 9 Best co-working spaces
- 10 Crypto community
- 11 Digital nomad community
- 12 Local nomad job opportunity
- 13 Popular recreational activities and fun spots
- 14 Transportation
- 15 Security/ safety
- 16 Cultural and social norms
- 17 How you might be expected to behave
- 18 Political and economic stability
- 19 Language and language barriers
- 20 Health
- 21 Electronic standards
- 22 Useful contacts
- 23 Mobile phone plans and cost
- 24 Payment services and infrastructure
- 25 Climate and seasons
- 26 Cuisine/ food
- 27 Tax requirements on digital nomads
- 28 Common concerns
The city boasts the most prominent tech, marketing, publishing, and finance players. You’ll find multiple headquarters and offices of Fortune 500 conglomerates like Verizon Communications, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup. It’s also a culturally rich and diverse city, with over 200 languages spoken, making it the fourth most diverse city in the US.
This guide comprehensively reviews New York City as a digital nomad destination.
The US has multiple options for foreign nationals to visit, live, and work. Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific Digital Nomad Visa. But other visa types and residence permits could still be suitable for digital nomads.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
If traveling to New York City for a short stay, like most digital nomads, you may qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This program allows most citizens from participating countries to visit the US for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes without needing a visa.
Here are the participating countries.
Requirements for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
To travel on the VWP, you must fulfill the following requirements;
- Have a valid ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)
- Your passport, the main traveling document, must be valid six months after your planned departure from the US.
- An e-passport with an electronic chip that complies with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- Emergency or temporary passports. Must be e-passports
Under the Visa Waiver Program’s Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, you may be ineligible to travel under the VWP if;
- You’re a national of a VWP country who traveled to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011.
- You’re also a national of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, or Syria.
If unsure whether you’re eligible for the VWP, check with the US consulate or embassy for guidance.
Entry for citizens of Canada and Bermuda
You generally don’t require a visa to enter the United States directly from Canada for purposes such as visiting or studying.
All Canadians entering the US by air will need a passport. Those entering by sea or land must have a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant travel document like a passport or Enhanced Driver’s License. A Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST) also works.
You will typically be granted a stay in the US for up to six months at entry. If you need to extend your stay, you must do so before the expiry date with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.
For Bermuda citizens, you don’t need a visa for travel up to 180 days unless you’re ineligible for a visa under US immigration law or have previously violated the terms of your immigration status in the US.
Visitor (B) visa
The Visitor (B) visa is for non-immigrant purposes (entering the US temporarily for a specific purpose).
If you’re traveling for business reasons, such as consulting with business associates, attending a conference, or negotiating a contract, then a business visitor visa (B-1) is appropriate. On the other hand, if you’re traveling for tourism purposes, you would apply for a tourist visa (B-2). A visa (B-1/B-2) is a combination of both purposes.
While B-1 or B-2 visas may be valid for up to 10 years, you can only stay in the US for a short time, typically up to 6 months.
Certain activities are not permitted under this type of visa. For example, you cannot study for credit, take up employment, work as a foreign press or journalist, or gain permanent residency in the US.
Process of applying for a visitor visa
Applying for a visitor visa involves several steps, including completing the online visa application form, scheduling an interview, and gathering the required documentation. The US consulate or embassy in your home country will have specific instructions for you to follow.
You’ll be required to pay a non-refundable visa application fee before your interview and a visa issuance fee (if applicable) after visa approval. The wait time varies depending on the particular country.
The consular officer will update you if your visa application needs further administrative processing.
Requirements for a (B) visa
The (B) visa has the following requirements:
- Complete the Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 (print the confirmation page to take to the interview)
- A photo that meets specific requirements, such as being a color photo and your head covering 50% to 69% of the image height
- A passport valid for six months longer than your intended stay in the US
- A payment receipt for the visa application fee
- Undergo ink-free, digital fingerprint scans
Depending on the circumstances of your trip, you may need to provide additional documents. These could include evidence of the purpose of your trip, your intention to depart the US after your visit, and your ability to pay all trip costs. You may also be asked to provide evidence of your employment, family ties, or further proof that you have a reason to return to your home country. If you need financial assistance, you can show evidence that someone else will cover some or all of your expenses.
Cost of a visitor visa
According to the US Department of State, the (B) visa application fee is a non-refundable $160. If your visa is approved, there may also be a visa issuance fee, which varies based on your nationality.
Difficulty in visa application
The immigration process in the United States is known to be strict. Expect to face close scrutiny on the reason for your visit and your plans while in the country. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult an immigration lawyer.
The US visa application process is complex and requires specific information. If you don’t meet all the requirements for the visa you’re applying for, or fail to provide the consular with all the required information, your visa may be denied. To avoid this, ensure you have all the necessary information and documents before starting your visa application process.
Geography – finding your way around the city
New York ranks among the largest cities in the world.
It comprises five boroughs i.e. Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Manhattan and Staten Island are islands, while Brooklyn and Queens are part of Long Island. The Bronx is part of the US mainland. All of these boroughs are connected by bridges, tunnels, and ferries.
Manhattan is roughly 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide at its widest. The streets in Manhattan run east and west, and the avenues run north and south. Also, the even-numbered streets are one-way traffic moving east, and the odd-numbered streets are one-way traffic moving west. Fifth Avenue divides Manhattan into east and west sides, and street addresses increase as you move farther east or west from Fifth Avenue. For north-south avenues, 20 blocks equal one mile, and the street numbers increase as you move uptown.
Note that New York City is in Eastern Standard Time, four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time during daylight saving time (about mid-March to early November) and five hours behind the rest of the year.
Great neighborhoods for digital nomads
There’s something for everyone in New York City, whether looking for a diverse neighborhood, a vibrant city center, or a quiet escape.
Brooklyn is among the priciest areas. However, if you’re looking to save on housing costs, Connecticut and New Jersey or Long Island communities are worth exploring.
Tourist-heavy areas around Manhattan tend to be the safest. On the other hand, places like Harlem and the Bronx may be more susceptible to crime.
Neighborhoods south of the Empire State Building, such as Chelsea, the West Village, East Village, SoHo, Lower East Side, and Tribeca, offer a more relaxed atmosphere with plenty of great restaurants and bars. Meanwhile, Midtown and Central Park are great for those who want to be in the heart of the tourist center.
The Lower East Side is an excellent option for a diverse and culturally rich neighborhood. Astoria, in Queens, is also popular as it offers more space for your money, a sense of community, lots of great food, and easy access to JFK International Airport and Midtown Manhattan.
Here are several great neighborhoods in different boroughs, according to Sparefoot Moving Guides.
|Manhattan||Brooklyn||The Bronx||Queens||Staten Island|
|Lower East Side||Fort Greene||Riverdale||Long Island City||St. George|
|Greenwich Village||Park Slope||Spuyten Duyvil||Astoria||Tompkinsville|
|Yorkville||Brooklyn Heights||South Bronx||Ridgewood||New Brighton|
|Central Harlem||Dumbo||Belmont||Flushing||West Brighton|
|Hudson Heights||Cobble Hill||Norwood||Rockaway Beach||Todt Hill|
|Upper East Side||Williamsburg||Jerome Park||Lighthouse Hill|
|Times Square||New Dorp|
The cost of living
It’s no secret that New York City is one of the most expensive cities globally. According to the World Economic Forum, New York and Singapore topped the list of the most expensive cities in 2022.
But despite its high cost of living, New York City has a high Per Capita Personal Income (PCPI) of $79,844 and ranks 4th in the US. After adjusting for purchasing power of the dollar, the PCPI drops to $63,875, yet still ranks 7th in the US. Living in New York City might be expensive, but the high earning potential might balance out the costs (one in 25 New Yorkers is a millionaire).
The city may have a few cost advantages compared to similar global locations. For example, consumer prices in New York City are 18.8% lower than in Zurich, Switzerland. But rent prices in New York City are 57.1% higher than in Zurich. However, restaurant prices in New York City are 16.2% lower, and groceries prices are 14.7% lower than in Zurich.
If you’re looking for a luxurious stay, New York City has no shortage of high-end hotels, including iconic properties such as The Plaza and The Waldorf Astoria. Many boutique hotels offer a more personalized experience and trendy new properties like The Ace Hotel.
For travelers on a budget, plenty of affordable accommodation options are available in New York City. Hostels are popular for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers, with many offering dormitory-style rooms and private rooms. Airbnb is also a popular option for affordable accommodation, with many apartments and rooms available throughout the city.
Flat sharing can be a cost-effective way of living in the city, especially if you plan to stay for a while.
Craigslist has a collection of rentals and roommates advertising in various locations in the city. Another option is Roomiapp, which has listings ranging from one to three months to a full year. Roomiapp specifically helps people find flatshare arrangements, so you can expect more options and a more streamlined experience.
Be prepared to pay higher prices for shorter-term rentals, as is typical in most cities. But with some patience, you should find a flatshare arrangement that works well for your budget.
One popular option for co-living in New York City is Outpost Club. They offer listings in various city areas and are partnered with Bedly, offering rentals for a month at a time and even longer.
Another option is Outsite. They offer discounts on stays of more than 60 days.
According to Numbeo, New York monthly rent averages at around $4000 (considering various unit sizes)
However, prices vary greatly depending on where you decide to stay. For example, prices on Kopa show an average cost of around $2,398 per month, with prices ranging from $1,270 to $6,190.
Here’s an overview of the rent prices for different apartment types.
|Apartment in City Centre||Apartment Outside City Centre|
There are several options for utilities in New York City.
The state has seven principal investor-owned utilities and small municipal and rural electric cooperatives that supply electricity and natural gas. Due to deregulation, many energy services companies (ESCOs) also offer electric and gas services to residents and businesses. These include popular options like New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) and Rochester Gas & Electric.
According to Numbeo, the average cost of essential utilities (electricity, water, heating, cooling, and garbage) for an 85-square-meter apartment is around $177.57 per month. Your actual charges may differ depending on your specific needs and usage.
New York City offers many options for grocery shopping, from big chain supermarkets to local bodegas and specialty food stores.
Prices vary based on where you shop and what you want. For those looking to save money, it’s always a good idea to shop at larger chain stores like Walmart or Target, where prices are lower than smaller specialty stores.
Here are the typical grocery shopping costs.
|Milk (1 liter)||1.25|
|Fresh White Bread (500g)||4.24|
|White rice (1kg)||8.01|
|Lettuce (1 head)||2.79|
|Local cheese (1kg)||16.67|
|Chicken fillets (1kg)||17.59|
|Beef round (1kg)||21.46|
According to TeamflowHQ, New York State has the 3rd highest average internet speed of 190.5 Mbps and the 3rd greatest broadband coverage of 96.80% in the US. With such speeds and coverage, you’ll have no problem working remotely and staying connected to the digital world.
You can find free Wi-Fi at places like Starbucks and all New York Public Library branches. If you need a more reliable and private internet connection, you can also purchase internet from one of the many providers in New York.
According to US News, these are New York City’s best internet services:
|Spectrum||Starting at $49.99 for 12 months||300 – 1,000 Mbps|
|Astound Broadband Powered by RCN||Starting at $19.99||300 – 1,200 Mbps|
|HughesNet||Starting at $64.99||25 Mbps|
|Viasat Internet||Starting at $49.99||12 – 50 Mbps|
|Verizon||Starting at $40.00||15 – 940 Mbps|
Overall, expect to pay roughly $68.86 for 60+ Mbps internet plans (unlimited data, Cable/ ADSL).
And here are the typical internet speeds in the city.
|Median Download Speed||Median Upload Speed||Median Latency||Providers|
|Mobile internet||125.11 Mbps||19.43Mbps||24 ms||AT&T, T-Mobile (highest speeds), and Verizon Wireless|
|Fixed internet||224.22 Mbps||31.23 Mbps||10 ms||Astound Broadband powered by RCN, Optimum, SpaceX Starlink, Spectrum, and Verizon (highest speeds)|
Best co-working spaces
The city has many great co-working spaces, each with a unique vibe.
Here are a few to choose from:
- Primary: Located in the Financial District, Primary offers a range of workspaces, including private offices, co-working spaces, virtual offices, and meeting rooms. Prices start at $30 for a co-working day pass and go up to $400/ month for a Glow Co-working Membership.
- WeWork: WeWork’s 76 locations in NYC offer a range of spaces, including private offices, dedicated desks, co-working spaces, and meeting rooms. Prices vary by location, but day passes start at $29 for hot desks, and meeting rooms start at $10/ seat/ hour.
- Spaces: With 10 locations in NYC, Spaces offers a variety of workspaces, including office spaces, dedicated desks, virtual offices, and meeting rooms. Prices for the Spaces Long Island City start at $109 per person for five days a month for a co-working membership and go up to $429/ month for an office space.
- The Farm SoHo: The Farm SoHo is known for its unique, quirky vibe. It has a range of workspaces, including open-space co-working, hot desks, and dedicated desks. Prices start at $29/ day for a day pass and go up to $349/ month for a dedicated desk.
New York City is a top hub for the crypto industry and receives a lot of attention from new-age finance and legacy institutions. The current Mayor of New York, Eric Adams, has been an outspoken proponent of it. He’s even suggested putting crypto on the school curriculums and took his first three paychecks in Bitcoin and Ether.
Legacy institutions such as Goldman Sachs, VanEck, and the New York Stock Exchange have been wading deeper into crypto. Goldman Sachs is even planning to offer options and futures trading in Ether, whereas, The New York Stock Exchange is reportedly working on building a non-fungible token market.
Whether you’re looking to network with like-minded individuals or get involved in the industry, there are plenty of opportunities in New York City.
Size of the local crypto community
As a digital nomad in NYC, you’ll find yourself in the heart of one of the world’s largest and most vibrant crypto communities.
According to Triple-A.io, the United States has over 44 million crypto owners, roughly 13% of the population. And New York State ranks fourth among the states with the highest concentration of crypto owners.
The state also has a thriving crypto industry. Since 2016, there have been 339 venture capital deals in the crypto industry in New York, with a total value of over $7 billion. This has helped attract many crypto companies to the state, including Ava Labs.
It’s interesting to note that 145 Bitcoin ATMs and tellers are located in and around the state.
The legal status of crypto
New York State has quite specific legal guidelines regarding crypto.
The state has a set of regulations for virtual currency businesses known as BitLicense. This license is required for nearly any commercial transaction involving virtual currency, including the sale, purchase, or issuance of virtual currency. If a business is involved in virtual and fiat currency transmission, it will require both a BitLicense and a traditional money transmitter license.
In 2022, New York became the first state to ban certain types of crypto mining for companies to address energy concerns. This ban will last two years and only allow companies to expand or renew permits for those using 100% renewable energy.
Crypto startups based in NYC
NYC is home to many crypto startups.
Built In NYC lists roughly 106 top blockchain companies in the city. Here are a few of the top crypto startups:
- Anchorage Digital – Founded in 2017 to advance institutional participation in digital assets. The company provides technology, infrastructure, and tools for institutions worldwide to participate in crypto.
- Ava Labs – Makes it simple for people to launch decentralized finance applications on Avalanche. Avalanche is the fastest smart contract platform in the blockchain industry.
- Aptos – A new project focused on delivering the world’s safest and most production-ready Layer 1 blockchain.
- Hiro Systems – Builds developer tools for Stacks, a network that enables apps and smart contracts for Bitcoin.
- Sorare – A platform at the intersection of sports, gaming, and NFTs. Sorare is designing a collective fantasy football experience through tradable digital cards where you can manage your favorite players and earn prizes.
Taxation on cryptocurrency
The IRS in the US treats cryptocurrency like property, such as stocks. That means you’d owe capital gains taxes if you sold crypto at a profit.
Long-term capital gains tax (applied to assets held for more than a year) has a 2023 rate ranging from 0% to 20% based on your total taxable income. On the other hand, short-term capital gains tax (applied to profits from selling assets held for less than a year) has a 2022-2023 range from 10% to 37%.
One strategy to reduce capital gains liability is to sell underperforming securities, thereby incurring a capital loss. This way, you could reduce your annual taxable income by up to $3,000. Speak to a tax expert to find the best strategy.
Digital nomad community
According to Airbnb, New York City ranks 2nd among the most popular cities for digital nomads in the US in Q1 2022.
The US, at large, had over 9 million temporary visitors for business in 2019, and over 16.9 million American workers describe themselves as digital nomads, according to the MBO Partners 2022 State of Independence research study.
NYC also ranks 10th among the best cities in America to work from home, according to TeamflowHQ.
Local nomad job opportunity
Remember that if you are on a visitor visa (B1/ B2), you cannot accept employment or work in the United States.
But you may be able to work on a visitor visa if you have an employer who is:
- A US citizen with a permanent home or stationed in a foreign country but visiting or assigned to the United States temporarily.
- A foreign citizen in the United States on one of the following non-immigrant visa categories: Q, P, O, M, L, J, I, H, F, E, and B,
To change your status in the US (marrying a US citizen or receiving an offer of employment), you may request a change in your non-immigrant status to another category through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Changing your status from USCIS does not require applying for a new visa while in the United States. However, once you depart, you must apply for a new visa at a US consulate or embassy in the appropriate category for your travel.
For job searching, check out the New York Times job market. Alternatively, you can conduct regular internet searches through sites like Indeed.com and Glassdoor. Check for opportunities that accommodate a digital nomad lifestyle.
Since less than half of all job opportunities are openly advertised, give unsolicited applications a try. Check the New York Yellow Pages for contact details of suitable businesses, or ask your nearest US Chamber of Commerce for a list of companies with branches or business associates in New York.
For an overview of the US labor market and occupations currently in demand, refer to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Popular recreational activities and fun spots
New York City has a wide range of attractions that cater to all tastes, from breathtaking views at the Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, and One World Observatory, to fascinating exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New York Hall of Science.
For performing arts lovers, Broadway is a must-visit. And off-Broadway shows offer thrilling entertainment at wallet-friendly prices.
If you relish food, you’ll find internationally acclaimed chefs and restaurants down to humble neighborhood eateries. The city features cuisines from all corners of the globe.
NYC is also a visual feast, with museums and galleries like the Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, and Whitney Museum of American Art showcasing immense collections and spectacular exhibitions.
And sports fans will find professional teams playing every game you could imagine.
Above all, NYC is a global shopping capital with stores carrying the finest luxury apparel, gourmet goods, vintage finds, and more.
To make the most of your trip, take one of the many tours offered in the city: double-decker bus tours, bike tours, boat tours, and walking tours. Get a New York CityPASS, New York Pass, New York Explorer Pass, or Build Your Own Pass from Go New York to save on admissions to iconic attractions.
While walking is the best way to really immerse yourself in NYC’s neighborhoods, you may also need to cover more ground. That’s where the city’s highly connected public transportation system comes in. The subway, buses, and taxis make it easy to move around the city quickly and efficiently.
With nearly 90 air carriers traveling to New York, you have plenty of options to get into the city.
You’ll likely land at JFK International Airport, LaGuardia Airport (LGA), or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). JFK and Newark both serve domestic and international destinations. On the other hand, LaGuardia primarily serves domestic destinations with a few flights to Canada.
No matter which airport you arrive at, you’ll have various transportation options to reach Manhattan, such as taxis, buses, subways, and commuter trains.
If you’re looking for alternative airports, consider Westchester County Airport (HPN), Stewart International Airport (SWF), or MacArthur Airport (ISP), which are all in the metropolitan area.
New York City has two main train stations in Midtown Manhattan: Grand Central Terminal on the east and Penn Station on the west. Both of these stations offer easy access to several subway and bus lines.
Grand Central Terminal is home to the Metro-North Railroad, which services various New York and Connecticut suburbs. On the other hand, Penn Station is the hub for three key railroads:
- The Long Island Rail Road, serving Long Island, parts of Queens and Brooklyn
- Amtrak, the national passenger railroad connecting many cities across the US and Canada
- NJ Transit, a commuter railroad operating in New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania
MTA subways and buses
The MTA subways and buses are an affordable and convenient way around NYC.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) runs the city’s rail and bus system, also known as MTA New York City Transit. You can purchase a MetroCard to access trains and buses traveling to almost every city corner. The minimum cost is $5.50 plus a $1 card fee. Buy it from subway stations using automated machines or booth attendants (cash only). If you already have a card, refill it to avoid paying a new card fee.
With pay-per-ride MetroCards, a single subway or local bus ride costs $2.75, and an express bus ride costs $6.75. The unlimited MetroCard lets you ride as often as possible within seven days ($33) or 30 days ($127). And the SingleRide card costs $3 (cash only) and must be used within 2 hours of purchase.
The MTA subways and buses are also accessible to people with disabilities. Plus, a growing number of buses are hybrid-electric and electric models.
Additionally, some bus lines travel to New York City from around the United States and parts of Canada, such as BoltBus, Megabus, and Greyhound.
Taxis in New York City are licensed and regulated by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission.
Yellow taxis are available anywhere in the city, whereas green taxis provide street hail and pre-arranged service in northern Manhattan (above E. 96th St. and W. 110th St.) and the other boroughs. Hail a taxi whose numbers are illuminated on top, and you’re good to go.
The minimum metered fare for a taxi ride is $2.50, which increases by 50 cents every 5th of a mile or every minute, depending on how fast you’re traveling.
There are also surcharges to keep in mind:
- A 50 cents per ride MTA state surcharge
- A 30-cent improvement surcharge
- An additional $1 surcharge is added to the meter Monday through Friday, 4-8 pm (excluding holidays)
- A 50-cent surcharge is added to the meter daily at night and early morning, from 8 pm – 6 am
- Bridge and tunnel tolls
All taxis accept cash, credit, debit, and prepaid cards. Tipping the driver 15-20% at the end of the trip is customary.
You’ll also find numerous local car services and popular app-based options like Uber and Lyft.
Here are the typical taxi tariffs according to Numbeo:
- Start (normal tariff) – $4.50
- 1 km (normal tariff) – $1.86
- 1-hour waiting (normal tariff) – $30.00
With its beautiful parks and bike paths, the city offers great options for cycling on your own or on a guided tour.
You can try out Citi Bike, New York’s bike-sharing system. With over 24,000 bikes and 1,500 stations, you can easily unlock and ride a bike wherever you want. And it’s available 24/7 every day of the year.
Many bike rental companies also offer hourly, half-day, and full-day rentals.
Also, pedicabs/ bike taxis/ bicycle rickshaws are a fun and unique way to explore the city. You’ll find them in the busier parts of Manhattan.
New York is a waterfront city, and its ferry system is an excellent option for getting around.
You can make your way through uptown or downtown Manhattan, other boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, or across the river to New Jersey. It’s only the cost of a subway ride.
New York City is 24th on the list of Safest Places to Live in the US.
With a score of 5.9/ 10 in safety and security, the city has a lower crime rate than other similarly sized metropolitan areas. Notably, in 2020, the city’s violent crime rate was lower than the national average, and its property crime rate was also lower.
Regarding the quality of life, New York City scores 6.8, making it one of the best places to live in the US.
The crime rate, especially among expatriates
Crimes typically don’t occur in tourist-heavy areas, but it’s still important to be cautious, especially when traveling in unfamiliar places.
According to the UK government’s foreign travel advice, tourists are rarely involved in violent crimes, including gun crimes.
It’s always a good idea to research your destination before traveling and follow the advice of local authorities.
Regarding petty crime, such as theft, it’s essential to take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your property. For example, don’t leave your passport in rental cars, especially in the trunk, as there have been many thefts by gangs targeting vehicles with tourists.
Also, be mindful of pickpocketing, a common crime in the city (and most other cities too).
Street performers are common in busy tourist areas and may ask for a tip, but you are not required to give money. If you feel uncomfortable or are harassed, look for a nearby police officer or call 911.
Dos and don’ts
There are a few essential dos and don’ts to stay safe.
Let’s start with the don’ts:
- Don’t showcase valuable possessions, as this may attract unwanted attention.
- Avoid walking through Central Park at night.
- Stay away from areas that are deserted.
- On the subway, stay in cars with other occupants.
- Avoid taking the train late at night.
Now, let’s talk about the dos:
- To protect yourself against pickpocketing, wear your wallet inside your clothing and avoid panhandlers.
- Blend in with the locals to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
- Familiarize yourself with the city’s grid system.
- Travel in groups when you’re unfamiliar with an area.
- Research destinations before you go.
- If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask a police officer for assistance.
Always keep safety in mind, especially since accidental injury or violence is more likely to kill travelers than infectious diseases. Here are some dos and don’ts in different accident scenarios.
- Always wear your seatbelt and sit at the back when possible.
- Only take marked taxis and hire drivers who are familiar with the local area.
- Familiarize yourself with the local road rules, traffic regulations, and vehicle maintenance requirements.
- Avoid balconies when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Don’t sit or lean over a balcony railing.
- Note that travel insurance may not cover injuries that occur while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Familiarize yourself with the nearest escape route of any building you enter.
- Make sure stairwells and doors are not blocked.
- In the event of a fire, evacuate immediately, and don’t stop to collect belongings.
Adventure sports safety:
- Stay calm and get fully trained in the adventure sport you’re participating in.
- Check the condition of equipment and use protective gear in good condition.
- Have adequate medical insurance.
- Seek shelter and avoid sun exposure between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is stronger.
- Cover up with clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved tops.
- Use sunscreen properly.
New York is known for its relentless, fast-paced, around-the-clock lifestyle, which can overwhelm newcomers.
This city comprises diverse cultures, religions, and ethnicities. Therefore, be mindful of how you interact with others and open-minded about different perspectives or beliefs.
New Yorkers are also known for being direct and straightforward, so avoid beating around the bush when communicating. When it comes to business etiquette, be respectful and professional, as well as prompt and punctual.
How you might be expected to behave
Understanding what’s expected of you will help you remain on the right moral lane, never rubbing locals the wrong way.
First and foremost, tipping is an integral part of the New York experience. Although not always the most thrilling task, it’s expected in service industries such as hotels, restaurants, and transportation. Tipping can vary depending on the type of service:
- Porters and bellhops: $1–$2 per bag
- Hotel doorman: $1 for hailing a cab
- Housekeeping: $1/ $2/ $5 per day
- Bartender: at least $1 per beverage served
- Waitstaff and bartender: 15–20% of your bill
- Hairdresser: 15–20% of the total service cost
- Taxi driver: 15–20% of the full fare
Other service personnel like tour guides, theater ushers, and coat-check staff also appreciate tips.
Personal space is also a big deal in New York, especially in subways and sidewalks (where possible, avoid close contact). If you accidentally bump into someone, it’s customary to say, “excuse me.” It shows that the touch was accidental. Regarding greetings, stick with a handshake in business meetings, although a light hug and pat on the back are acceptable in social situations.
For business interactions, remember that this is America, not Europe. Air kissing is not the norm, and handshakes are more appropriate.
Cultural dos and don’ts
To avoid offending anyone, take note of these cultural dos and don’ts:
- Note that smoking is strictly prohibited in restaurants, places of business, and public parks. If you must smoke, always ask for permission before lighting up.
- When greeted with the question, “How are you?” it’s not an actual inquiry but a simple greeting, and you can respond with the same question.
- When meeting someone new, shake their hand and look them directly in the eye. It is considered polite and shows respect.
- Be mindful of others while walking on sidewalks. Be sure when to move slowly, stop, or move side to allow someone to pass.
Political and economic stability
The political and economic aspects of NYC are remarkable.
New York is the US’s largest city, with the nation’s biggest consumer base. With a gross metropolitan product of $1.66 trillion, its economy produces more value than Texas’ entire gross state product. In fact, if New York City were an independent country, its economy would be the tenth-largest in the world, outdoing the whole economies of countries like Canada and Russia.
Major companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, TikTok, and big financial institutions have their headquarters or offices in the city.
Regarding politics, New York State has evolved over time, and the Democratic Party currently dominates. Democrats make up over twice as many registered voters as any other political party affiliation.
The nature of politics and government
The New York City government is led by a mayor and a council of 51 members, responsible for ensuring that the city promotes public safety, health, and opportunity. On top of that, 300,000 civil servants are employed to make the city a better place for everyone.
New Yorkers elect the Mayor, Borough Presidents, City Council Members, Public advocates, and Comptroller. And the city charter outlines the authority of each official and the relationships between them, ensuring that the government is run efficiently and effectively.
On a larger scale, the United States ranks high in governance. The country ranks 15th worldwide on the Human Freedom Index (due to democratic elections, constitutional constraints, separation of powers, and decentralization). Here are the overall scores.
|Governance Scores||Human Freedom Scores|
|Property rights||95.7||Personal freedom||9.09|
|Judicial effectiveness||77.9||Economic freedom||8.24|
|Government integrity||75.7||Human freedom||8.73|
Firstly, New York City is one of the most populated cities in the world, with around 8.8 million people. Over the past ten years, it has experienced a population growth of 7.7%, with 40.3% of the population (25+ years old) holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.
New York City boasts a GDP of $1.022 trillion, making it one of the largest in the world.
The city’s main sectors include:
- Leisure and hospitality
- Professional and business services
- Education and health
Although the city experienced a job growth decline of -3.0% over the past five years, the unemployment rate as of December 2022 was only 5.9%. Nearly 70% of households are renters, with many houses being rent-stabilized. The median home price in 2020 was $650,000, and the median household income was $70,000.
Language and language barriers
|Languages Spoken at Home (2019 Estimates)||Population|
|Chinese (including Mandarin and Cantonese)||498,683|
|Pennsylvania Dutch, Yiddish, or other West Germanic languages||106,590|
|French (including Cajun)||71,783|
|Twi, Yoruba, Igbo, or other Western African languages||69,267|
|Tagalog (including Filipino)||52,724|
|Other Indo-European languages||47,983|
|Other Asian languages||30,571|
|Other and unspecified languages||22,066|
|Marathi, Nepali, or other Indic languages||17,935|
|Ukrainian or other Slavic languages||15,544|
|Persian (including Farsi and Dari)||10,744|
|Somali, Amharic, or other Afro-Asiatic languages||9,626|
|Kannada, Malayalam, or other Dravidian languages||9,119|
|Lao, Thai, or other Tai-Kadai languages||6,956|
|Samoan, Ilocano, Hawaiian, or other Austronesian languages||5,720|
|Swahili or other Eastern, Central, and Southern African languages||3,099|
|Other North American Native languages||675|
NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ranks among the world’s largest public health agencies. It has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and over 6,000 staff across the five boroughs.
Note that there are restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescription drugs into the USA. Therefore, check the US Food and Drug Administration’s website for further information and advice on bringing medicines into the country.
Clinics vs. hospitals
New York State has 412 hospitals.
US News ranks 186 hospitals in New York City based on their performance in complex care in medical specialties. Here are the top options:
- NYU Langone Hospitals, New York, NY 10016-6402
- New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell, New York, NY 10065-4870
- Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY 10029-0310
- Lenox Hill Hospital at Northwell Health, New York, NY 10075-1850
- North Shore University Hospital at Northwell Health, Manhasset, NY 11030-3816
It’s crucial to get adequate travel health insurance coverage and accessible funds to cover any medical treatment cost in an emergency. Get comprehensive insurance covering the cost of medical treatment abroad and repatriation in case you need to be taken back to your home country for medical treatment.
Note that some hospitals in New York City may require non-US residents to make a deposit or ‘good faith payment on admission. In such cases, direct the requests for funds to your travel insurance provider.
Forbes provides a helpful ranking of the best travel insurance companies:
- HTH Worldwide – great medical coverage
- Nationwide – best upgrades
- Seven Corners – best value for robust coverage
- WorldTrips – great add-ons
- Generali Global Assistance – great pre-existing medical condition coverage
Overall, the average travel insurance costs 6% of your trip cost.
For a sample of the specific cost, here are the average prices of the top travel insurance plans:
- GoReady choice – $291
- TravelSafe Classic – $384
- IMG iTravelInsured Travel LX – $828
Health care quality
New York City offers excellent health care to residents and foreigners.
The percentage of uninsured New Yorkers has decreased from 20% to 12% in the last five years. And the city aims to reduce this further to less than 9%.
There are still several challenges in the health care system, with 1,033 “avoidable hospitalizations” per 100,000 adults (which could have been prevented with access to quality primary care). And the adult obesity rate is 24%. Additionally, over 700,000 adult New Yorkers (11% of adults) have been diagnosed with diabetes, while 28% of adults have been diagnosed with hypertension. Plus, the leading cause of death in New York State is heart disease.
Despite those challenges, the majority of NY State residents (78%) rank their health as “excellent,” “very good,” or “good.” On average, the life expectancy in New York State is 77.7 years, the fertility rate is 54.6 births for every 1,000 women 15-44 years of age, and the infant mortality rate is 3.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
The vaccination requirements will vary based on your nationality.
For British digital nomads visiting the US, you’ll make sure your primary courses and boosters are up to date, including:
- The seasonal flu vaccine
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
Additionally, vaccines like polio, Hepatitis A, and tetanus are recommended, while vaccines like hepatitis B and rabies are only advised for those individuals at the highest risk.
On top of that, due to the pandemic, non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. immigrants must show proof of being fully vaccinated with a recommended COVID-19 vaccine before boarding a flight to the US.
In the US, power sockets deliver 120 volts at 60 hertz, which is notably different from European countries. Therefore, carry an adapter and possibly a voltage converter to ensure you can use your laptop, phone charger, and other electronics.
These contacts can be helpful in various situations you may encounter in the US:
- For emergencies (police, fire, or ambulance): 911
- NYC government agencies and questions or requests about City services (nonemergency): 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (639-9675)
- Inquire about lost items: 311
- File complaints about discrimination: 311 or visit nyc.gov/311
- Directory assistance: 411
- Printed NYC literature (guides and maps): 800-NYC-VISIT (692-84748) or 212-397-8222 (for international callers only), Mon. – Fri., 7:30 am – 5:30 pm CT; or visit nycgo.com to download or order
- The NYC Official Visitors Guide: view or download online
Mobile phone plans and cost
Multiple mobile phone plans are available to digital nomads in New York City.
According to Numbeo, a prepaid mobile tariff local call without discounts or plans costs approximately 10 cents per minute.
Wirecutter provides a helpful recommendation of the best cell phone plans, including:
- T-Mobile’s Magenta plan – Costs $70 per month. Features unlimited phone calls, added entertainment and travel perks, 100GB of premium data, 5GB on a high-speed mobile hotspot, and unlimited 5G and 4G LTE data.
- Verizon Wireless’ Welcome Unlimited plan – Costs $60 per line per month. It comes with unlimited 5G; unlimited talk and text; 5G nationwide and 4G LTE; Verizon Up rewards; talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada; international texting; and a call filter spam blocker.
- AT&T Prepaid Unlimited plan – Costs $50 per month. It offers unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data; 5G access; unlimited texting to over 230 countries; unlimited text, talk, and data in and between Mexico and Canada; fraud call blocking; 5GB of mobile hotspot; and standard-definition streaming.
How to register for a SIM card
When getting a SIM card in New York City, ensure your phone is unlocked so you can use a new US SIM card with a different mobile service provider. You may need to purchase a new phone if your phone is locked.
You can purchase a prepaid SIM card from local carriers like AT&T or T-Mobile through their physical stores. Anyone can buy a prepaid SIM card, whether a US citizen or a visitor from another country.
Payment services and infrastructure
The recent pandemic caused a significant shift in how New Yorkers buy and sell goods and services, with e-commerce becoming the economy’s lifeline.
The use of cash has declined rapidly, and digital and mobile wallets have become more popular than ever before. This is especially important for digital nomads who need access to their funds anywhere.
Popular domestic payment services
Debit and credit cards make up a significant proportion of domestic payment services.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2020 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice highlights the following percentage shares of payments by the average amount per transaction:
- Cash – 6%
- Check – 20%
- Debit card – 12%
- Credit card – 16%
- BANP (bank account number payment) – 18%
- OBBP (online banking bill payment) – 16%
- Other – 10%
And here are the percentage shares of payments by the number of transactions per month:
- Cash – 19%
- Check – 7%
- Debit card – 28%
- Credit card – 27%
- BANP (bank account number payment) – 7%
- OBBP (online banking bill payment) – 5%
- Other – 5%
Accessible international payment services
New York offers a wide range of international payment options, which are particularly useful for global e-commerce transactions.
Here are the top US payment options based on e-commerce transaction numbers in 2019:
- Cards – 47%
- Digital wallets – 28%
- Bank transfers – 9%
- Cash – 7%
- Other – 9%
And here is the share of online stores offering the primary payment methods in the US in 2020:
- Visa – 94.3%
- Mastercard – 94.3%
- American Express – 89.4%
- Discover – 84.1%
- PayPal – 73.9%
Currencies and exchange rates
The standard currency in New York City and the United States is the dollar.
You can use an online currency converter like Xe to determine the value of your currency compared to the dollar (keep in mind that exchange rates fluctuate all the time).
When exchanging currency, it’s best to avoid airports or hotels as they often add hidden fees. Instead, try to find a local bank with a partnership with your home bank so you can withdraw money in dollars without extra fees. Just check with your bank beforehand to ensure this is possible.
If you prefer foreign currency exchangers, here are some notable options:
- CEI FX – New York
- A&S Foreign Exchange
- Change Group – New York
When paying for items, always choose USD. This way, you’ll get closer to the mid-market rate for that day and avoid additional mark-ups or commissions.
Climate and seasons
Knowing what to expect during each season can help you pack the right clothes for your trip.
New York City experiences an average high of 61.95°F and an average low of 47.87°F. The city sees an average of 49.94 inches of rainfall throughout the year.
Spring in NYC is beautiful, with budding flowers and light winds. Temperatures during this season can range from cool to very warm, so be prepared with light jackets and warmer clothing. Summer is sunny and hot, with clear blue skies and longer days. If you’re near the water, you may experience cool breezes that help you cool off.
As NYC heads into the fall season, temperatures start to cool down, and you’ll need to wear layers to stay warm. The weather is chilly and crisp, so be sure to pack a variety of clothing options. Winter in New York City can be pretty cold, with less daylight and snowy conditions. Although it can be chilly, the skies are often sunny and clear.
Here’s an overview of the yearly temperature and rainfall patterns.
|Jan||3.9″||39°F (4°C)||26°F (-3°C)|
|Feb||3.0″||42°F (6°C)||29°F (-2°C)|
|Mar||4.0″||50°F (10°C)||35°F (2°C)|
|Apr||3.9″||60°F (16°C)||44°F (7°C)|
|May||4.4″||72°F (22°C)||55°F (13°C)|
|June||3.5″||75°F (24°C)||60°F (16°C)|
|July||4.0″||85°F (29°C)||70°F (21°C)|
|Aug||4.1″||88°F (31°C)||75°F (24°C)|
|Sep||4.0″||77°F (25°C)||60°F (16°C)|
|Oct||3.4″||67°F (19°C)||51°F (11°C)|
|Nov||4.5″||54°F (12°C)||41°F (5°C)|
|Dec||3.6″||44°F (7°C)||32°F (0°C)|
New York City offers an incredible diversity of food. There are many options, whether looking for a quick bite from a food truck or an immersive dining experience.
One of the most famous dishes from New York is pizza. The city is known for its bagels, cheesecake, General Tso’s chicken, egg cream, pastrami, and corned beef on rye bread. Street food like hot dogs and pretzels, beef on weck sandwiches, cumin lamb noodles, and Buffalo wings are also common.
For those on a budget, plenty of food truck options are available in the city. Many offer meals for as low as $2.50. You will find everything from tacos to skewered meats.
Note that restaurants, food carts, and food trucks must post their prices where you order. If you don’t see them, you can ask to see a price list. Stores must also put prices either on the item or on a sign where the item is displayed. So, you shouldn’t worry about overpaying for a meal in New York.
Here are the typical prices when eating out:
- A meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $25.00
- A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant – $100.00
- A McMeal at Mcdonald’s – $10.55
Tax requirements on digital nomads
When evaluating digital nomads’ income tax obligations, the United States uses the substantial presence test to determine whether you’re considered a resident for tax purposes.
The test is based on the days you spend in the country over three years. To be a taxable resident, you must be physically present in the US for at least 31 days during the current year and 183 days during the three years, including the current year and the two previous years.
Some days don’t count towards the substantial presence test, such as:
- Days you commute to the US for work from your residence in Canada or Mexico
- Days you are in the US for less than 24 hours while in transit
- The period you are in the US as a crew member of a foreign vessel
In New York specifically, you are considered a resident if: your home is New York State, or you maintain a permanent home in the state for most of the taxable year and spend one hundred and eighty-four days or more in the state during the taxable year.
Even if you’re a nonresident but have income from New York State sources, you may still have to pay federal and state income tax.
The federal income tax rate for foreign persons is generally 30% of the gross amount of certain income from US sources. Fortunately, you can claim a reduced rate or exemption under an income tax treaty.
The state income tax rate in New York State ranges from 4% to 8.82%, based on different income levels.
Consult a tax professional to meet all your tax obligations and take advantage of any tax benefits.
Regarding sales tax, remember that the price tags on most goods and services in New York City don’t include the 8.875% sales tax, which gets added at payment. However, there is no sales tax on many food items purchased at grocery stores (except heated or prepared foods), prescription drugs, and clothing or footwear under $110.
Despite the benefits of New York City for digital nomads, you may face a few challenges, such as:
- Absence of close family and friends, being away from home
- Keeping up with complex tax regulations
- Managing your finances due to a high cost of living
Fortunately, such problems can be balanced out by various beneficial aspects, like:
- The presence of a large and like-minded digital nomad community
- Interaction with incredibly successful professionals to help you grow in your career
- Access to some of the best service providers to manage finances and other needs
- Visa-free access for many eligible countries
- Access to many amenities and readily available utilities